Ward Melville Patriot League Says Thank You to Local Veterans


Raif Hossain

Guests and student conversing at the BBQ

Ryan Fan, Sports Editor


On Thursday, May 21, 2015, members of the Ward Melville Patriot League assembled in the senior patio in the back of the school to honor the service of active servicemen and veterans from WWII to Iraq in the Second Annual Three Village Veterans Appreciation Barbecue. The event began at 5PM, with multiple guests of honor from various veterans organizations and the local community being the first to arrive, with the exception of club members that were setting up the senior patio since 2PM. The night began beautifully with the Color Guard march and a wonderful rendition of our national anthem by the Ward Melville Jazz Band.

A wide range of faculty and students partook in the event, with guests ranging from Ward Melville students, security guards, to Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn. To top it off, Ward Melville’s finest, Principal Baum and Assistant Principal Malone, took a huge part in the dinner, grilling all burgers and hot dogs served at the BBQ.

“From superintendents and administrative workers to principals, teachers and security staff, the BBQ united our district veterans together in a fun and supportive environment,” said Patriot League President Brianna Cea.

“The BBQ was memorable because it was wonderful to see young people together in a positive light, and for them to express their gratitude and appreciation for our veterans,” said club supervisor, Mr. Cereola. “Seeing our honored veterans and students share this wonderful experience was meaningful and inspiring.”

To recap the night, many members of the Patriot League assembled to speak on the podium to share final words of gratitude, including Team Leaders Julia Liquori, Tom Audley, and Kenny Hass, Co-Vice Presidents James Laguerre and Kyle Antonucci. and President and Founder of Patriot League Brianna Cea.

“This BBQ meant a lot because it was very heartwarming to see Ward Melville students take the time to talk and listen to the veterans. In our generation, the idea of patriotism is deemed as “cheesy” or is associated with right-wing conservatism,” Brianna said . “However, it is events like this barbecue that show that each and every one of us have the ability to be a Patriot.”

The idea of the barbecue was conceived in the beginning of the year after the immediate success of the First Annual Flag Football Tournament. It was a sequel to the First Annual Three Village Appreciation Dinner, in which approximately two dozen local veterans and their families enjoyed a wonderful dinner and appreciation from Ward Melville students. After its mission was accomplished in April 2014, the Patriot League looked for another similar event to replicate its success this year. As early as December, the Patriot League began contacting guests of honor, acquiring sponsorships, and preparing an event that was both bigger and better than its predecessor last year.

One signature symbol present in the barbecue was the student-crafted and decorated flag signed in the commons by students in the school in dedication of the veterans and active servicemen present. With over 200 signatures, this flag embodied the diverse student body’s gratitude and appreciation for all that have served their country, even if they were unable to attend the barbecue.

Patriot League’s final event ended the year with a bang, but unfortunately the club loses a large amount of its seniors this year, including Brianna Cea. Brianna’s determination and dedication to the club and promoting patriotism across the community have been a huge driving force in keeping members organized and successful. This year, as she and approximately half the club leave Ward Melville, the club loses an integral part of its identity. But even with the considerable amount of seniors departing this year, membership and patriotism in the club are still strong with the emergence of many new sophomore and junior club members who made huge commitments and contributions, and have distinguished themselves as promising leaders that can carry the torch to the next level.

Consequently, Mr. Cereola remains optimistic about the club’s future. “We have some Patriot League members returning who showed a good measure of enthusiasm and dedication this year,” said Mr. Cereola. ” I believe with the foundation we have established the cause and the club will continue to grow.”

“Words cannot express how proud I am of the Ward Melville Patriot League. As the president and founder, it is truly incredible to work with a group of students that are just as passionate as I am for spreading our mission,” Brianna noted. “I believe one of the most remarkable aspects of Patriot League is the opportunity to watch students grow as leaders. Because of our leadership organization, I have witnessed our students challenge themselves and their team to grow as student leaders in the community.”